My bike needs washed. Every time we have a decent day and I take it out for a ride, I park it outside thinking I will wash it before returning it to the garage. And every day I end up rolling it back inside without giving it the bath it so desperately needs.
See what I mean? I have what I think is a very good looking bike in the Street Triple R. But it has been filthy for a long time. In fact, I don’t even remember the last time I washed it. I haven’t always been this way. I used to wash and polish my bikes all the time. I mean, I have had some very nice looking machines and I always wanted them to look good. Now, before you think I totally neglect my bikes I want to assure you that is not the case. They get careful maintenance: fluids changed regularly, chain lubed, regular valve adjustments, etc. And I do wash them…eventually. Just not very often.
It’s not because I’m lazy or don’t care how they look, I think it has more to do with why I buy bikes. I buy bikes to ride. I buy them for the fun factor. That’s why I have taken a shine to the very impractical KTM 690 Duke. Sensible machine? Hell no! Crazy fun? You bet.
I believe I can take you to the exact point in time when I quit polishing bikes. It was when I bought my first BMW GS. I put Jesse panniers on it, an Aeroflow windscreen and nicknamed her, “The Big Ugly.”The bike was not a looker. It had no chrome. Nothing really to polish besides the tank. But man, I loved to ride that thing. I rode it summer, winter, spring and fall. I rode it in the warm weather and the cold. I rode it in the sun and the rain. And it got dirty. And I didn’t care. In fact, I think it looked better the dirtier it got! To be fair, I have had a couple Ducatis since the GS and I probably put a little more effort into their glossy red coat, but still, I’m more of a rider than a polisher.
This begs the question, how do we make purchase decisions when we buy motorcycles? Well, some of us buy bikes based on looks. Nothing wrong with that. I like a good looking machine too. Sometimes we buy to be part of something bigger. And I’m not throwing stones at the Black and Orange crowd here either. The forums poke a lot of fun at the ADV “world traveler” bikes that mostly park in front of the local Starbucks. I’ve been a part of the Beemer club, the Ducati red elite and the Triumph Rat Pack. Nothing wrong with any of that. When I was young, I may have lusted after a few bikes because they were “cool,” or I hoped they would make me “cool.” A long shot at best. But I have not done that in a long time. I buy bikes because of what they can do…and what they can do for me, the hopeless, restless romantic. And yes, I do look for that ever elusive vibe or “soul” that certain bikes seem to possess. I don’t buy bikes to polish and preen over. I buy them to escape, both figuratively and literally.
And that brings me to the point of the nonsense floating through my head today. More specifically, why do we do the things we do? Not just taking bikes now. Why do we chose the path we take in life? Why are we where we are at this or any given point in time? Is it where we want to be? If so, great. Lucky you. If not, then why not? And what are you going to do about it? I could easily get lost in a never ending discourse of purpose and choice…but I think I will stop right here and say that sometimes its good to step back, look at the things you are doing or the way you are doing them and say, “What’s the point here? Why am I doing this? Is it going to take me where I want to go?” If not, then maybe its time to consider trading models. And yes, like most people who put their thoughts in print for all to read and critique, my material comes from a very personal place.
Oh, rode the bike today. Did not wash it!